H. B. Moore
Covenant Communications, 2008
I don't tend to sneak a peek at how a book ends because I like to get to
the ending the way the writer intended. (I have been known to do it, but
I don't think I do it very often.) Historical novelizations, when I know
that "everybody dies" (whether in the book or eventually), are a little
different, but I read them to get to know the people and their
situation, not to find out what happened. This book is historical to me,
because I believe Abinadi existed and gave his life in testimony of his
God, and there are a few other such historical characters in the story.
But the author is not, as my father liked to say, "encumbered by too
much information," so she had to make up a lot and extrapolate a lot
more from what is known.
Among the things she made up was the idea that Abinadi was not the wiry
ancient as portrayed in the Arnold Freiberg painting, but a young man
who had much more to leave when he died: a wife, a son, a mother and
brother. It's an interesting approach, and, since I suspect that Alma
the Younger was not as young as he has been portrayed when he and the
Sons of Mosiah were causing trouble (he may even have been almost old
enough to be their father), I can imagine a young Abinadi. This, of
course, made his sacrifice all the more poignant.
The thing that worked the best for me in this story was the depiction of
the decadence of King Noah's people, and how fear and guilt helped to
escalate the wickedness. The way Alma the Elder was presented also
worked very well for me: how he felt so honored to be made a priest of
Noah, how he struggled to rationalize that lifestyle with his
upbringing, how he was sickened by what he realized he had become and
resolved to stop--though fear kept him from doing very much about it
until Abinadi's words connected with him and he learned he could repent.
This is an interesting interpretation of what we have in the scriptures,
and the author applies what else is known of the period and cultures of
Mesoamerica. There are notes at the end of the book that add information
to most of the chapters, along with scripture references for the part of
the Book of Mormon that is presented in the relevant chapters.
There are also a few editing glitches: a section that deals with Alma
refers to him at one point as Abinadi, and two or three times a
character will be described as being in one place and then suddenly in
an entirely different place without the text having moved the character
there and without any kind of scene break; but for the most part it is
well-written, and the characters are believable. The spiritual parts are
well-executed and also believable.
This is a book I'd recommend to those who would like to imagine more
about the people we meet in the Book of Mormon. It's one of many
possible ways it might have happened.